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Weissman writes: "Donald Trump astounds the world with his casual American racism, while far-right and neo-fascist movements across Europe grow strong by hating others for their skin color, religious origin, or immigrant status. From the police and prosecutorial lynching of American blacks to Europe's increasingly barbaric treatment of refugees, the specifics differ. But hatred is catching, and the destructive forces on one side of the Atlantic will inevitably reinforce those on the other."

Donald Trump. (photo: Getty Images)
Donald Trump. (photo: Getty Images)

Bashing Blacks, Latinos, Jews, and Muslims: Never Again!

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

01 September 15


onald Trump astounds the world with his casual American racism, while far-right and neo-fascist movements across Europe grow strong by hating others for their skin color, religious origin, or immigrant status. From the police and prosecutorial lynching of American blacks to Europe’s increasingly barbaric treatment of refugees, the specifics differ. But hatred is catching, and the destructive forces on one side of the Atlantic will inevitably reinforce those on the other.

Why inevitably? Think of the precedents.

Adolph Hitler greatly admired America’s “wholesome aversion for the Negroes” and was “passionately interested in the Ku Klux Klan.” The American car-maker Henry Ford published propaganda against “The International Jew” and openly supported the Nazis, as does the never-say-die octogenarian Willis Carto, who continues to teach that “Hitler’s defeat was the defeat of Europe. And of America.”

Carto is “undoubtedly the central figure in the post-World War II American far right” and he makes no bones about blaming Hitler’s defeat on “the Jew-Zionist international bankers’ conspiracy.” He spread this message in his widely circulated hate-sheet “The Spotlight,” backed the segregationist White Citizens Councils to fight against “the inevitable niggerification of America,” and created the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), which spread its Holocaust denial to Europe and the Middle East.

Bringing all this hate together, Carto organized the Liberty Lobby, “a big tent” for everyone on the far right, from Ku Klux Klansman David Duke to the libertarian Ron Paul, who used the lobby’s mailing list to sell subscriptions to his own racist newsletters.

The Donald may be one hell of a salesman, and he can draw on centuries of slavery, racial segregation, imperial wars, and the genocide of the Native Americans. But, like chickens coming home to roost, the arguments articulated by Willis Carto and his acolytes are now being parroted by the neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and Christian Identity activists applauding Trump’s racist provocations.

“I don’t think Trump is a white nationalist,” one of them told the New Yorker’s Evan Osnos. Nor is the loud-mouth candidate an ideological fascist, at least not yet. But, said his admirer, Trump reflected “an unconscious vision that white people have – that their grandchildren might be a hated minority in their own country. I think that scares us. They probably aren’t able to articulate it; I think it’s there. I think that, to a great degree, explains the Trump phenomenon. I think he is the only person who can tap into it.”

Both in the US and Europe, this tapping into nativist resentment, white and Christian nationalism, xenophobic intolerance, and racist hatred is already having catastrophic consequences, which will almost certainly get worse. The only thing that can stop it is if decent people drive a stake into its heart. But how?  

This is the big question we need to put directly to Senator Bernie Sanders, who is challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination (See here and here). Bernie is primarily fighting for greater economic and social equality with pragmatic programs that extend FDR’s New Deal. This is not a bad place to begin, since growing inequality only feeds the far-right and neo-Nazis. But he needs to explicitly target the hateful bashing of “outsiders” that these movements make their central organizing principal. 

With help from Cornel West and disruptive pressure from Black Lives Matter, Sanders is belatedly making racially specific issues part of his campaign.  But, like most old-fashioned socialists of whatever school, he still appears to view racism primarily as a symptom of economic causes to be cured by class-based economic solutions.

Class counts, to be sure, and economics determines much of the world in which we live. But, to borrow from the title of Brother Cornel’s master work, twenty-first century socialists have to understand that Race Matters. As he wrote in the preface to his 2001 edition, “Black people in the United States differ from all other modern people owing to the unprecedented levels of unregulated and unrestrained violence directed at them.” The violence continues without let-up, which is why the Sanders campaign has to make a priority of working with blacks, whites, and everyone else to stop it.

Sanders and those of us who support him must similarly make an all-out effort to stop the prejudice that Trump displays against Mexicans and other Latinos. As in the 1960s, when Bernie led pickets and sit-ins at the University of Chicago as campus president of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), white supremacy remains a defining issue of American life.

But this is just the start. The really tough issue for Sanders goes beyond race and the color line. If he is to help stifle the far-right and neo-fascist onslaught, he needs to make more explicit his opposition to the organized violence and hatred against Muslims. Wanting to focus on common-sense domestic programs, he has shied away from foreign policy except to answer questions and remind voters that he voted against both Iraq wars, while Hillary voted for the war in 2003. He now says he will spend more time on foreign policy, but his silence so far has weakened any systematic criticism of what my colleague William Boardman calls “America’s 14 years of continuous war in the Middle East and Africa.”

Bernie’s “critical but supportive posture on Israel,” in the words of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), similarly weakens any outspoken condemnation of Muslim-bashing, which now rivals Jew-bashing as a motivating force for the far-right and neo-fascists, especially in Europe. As Willis Carto’s American Free Press headlined an article on Marine Le Pen, the “National Front finds being ‘anti-Muslim’ better for business than being ‘anti-Semitic.’”

Speaking at a town hall in Cabot, Vermont, during last summer’s Gaza war, Bernie posed some tough questions for himself: “Has Israel over-reacted? Have they bombed U.N. facilities? The answer is yes, and that is terribly, terribly wrong,” he said.

“On the other hand – and there is another hand – you have a situation where Hamas is sending missiles into Israel – a fact – and you know where some of those missiles are coming from. They’re coming from populated areas; that’s a fact. Hamas is using money that came into Gaza for construction purposes – and God knows they need roads and all the things that they need – and used some of that money to build these very sophisticated tunnels into Israel for military purposes.”

According to JTA, hecklers interrupted, some shouting epithets.

“Excuse me, shut up, you don’t have the microphone,” Sanders said. “You asked the question, I’m answering it. This is called democracy. I am answering a question and I do not want to be disturbed.”

Sanders was right, there is always another hand, and as “an old Jew” (his term), he knows with which hand he identifies. This is his personal stance. The question is whether he can get beyond it for the greater good.

Those of us who have long supported an independent State of Palestine need to answer the same question. Largely because of the work of Willis Carto and his ideological stormtroopers, too many Palestinians and their supporters have bought into Holocaust denial and repeated the lies of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

Why have so many of us remained silent about this for so long? Mostly because we did not want to create an added burden for the underdogs. But we did our Palestinian comrades no favor, and we played into the hands of the neo-Nazis. If we are going to ask Bernie Sanders to help lead the fight against Muslim-bashing, we have to ask the Palestinians, the Egyptians, the Iranians and so many others to stop their Jew-bashing. Together, we all have to say, “Never again!” This is the only way we can begin to defeat the hatred into which Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen are tapping.

A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, “Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold.”

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